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Criminal Identity Theft

What is criminal identity theft?

The phrase "criminal identity theft" may be misleading. All identity theft is a crime under California law, but "criminal identity theft" refers to one type of the crime. Criminal identity theft occurs when someone cited or arrested for a crime uses another person's name and identifying information, resulting in a criminal record being created in that person's name. When that happens, the victim of criminal identity theft can have problems with law enforcement or be unable to gain employment. It is a serious, but rare, problem.

How can victims of criminal identity theft clear their names?

In California, there is a process to help the victim to clear his or her name. If victimized, you may be able to correct the problem by presenting information on your identity theft to the law enforcement agency that requested issuance of the arrest warrant. Otherwise, you will need to go to court for a finding of factual innocence.

You then can present this court finding and apply to be entered into the California (Criminal) Identity Theft Registry.

Once you are entered in the Registry, you will receive notification of your status that you can present if you are questioned in the future. You can also request that notification be provided to prospective employers or others.

The California (Criminal) Identity Theft Registry Application Process

The Department of Justice maintains the (Criminal) Identity Theft Registry. Once you provide the proper information and it is confirmed, you will be entered into the statewide Registry database.

The process of applying to the Registry, explained in detail in the guide, has six steps:

  • STEP 1. Get court order/verification.
  • STEP 2. Get live scan fingerprints.
  • STEP 3. Complete registration application form.
  • STEP 4. Complete checklist for application.
  • STEP 5. Mail documents to the Department of Justice.
  • STEP 6. Receive registration notification.

Guide for Victims of Criminal Identity Theft

A guide provides instructions on the application process and the necessary court documents.

How to Use the California Identity Theft Registry: A Guide for Victims of "Criminal" Identity Theft

Court Documents and Forms, pdf

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